Creeping thyme (magic carpet)

Creeping thyme

Known as an ornamental, Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) produce a very nice smelling flower that will grow no more than 6” high, and spread out giving you a very nice spread of foliage.

Creeping Thyme are a very popular plant and can be found at almost all garden centers or nurseries. They are perennials and are very aromatic and if you are trying to categorize them, you will find them under herbs.

They love the soil to be well drained, with lots of sunlight and a medium amount of water. Do not over fertilize, as creeping thyme actually have a preference for poorer soils (like most herbs do).

They will bloom from May right through until August, or longer depending on your growing season. They will grow in shaded areas, but they will not flower as well as in the sunlight.

They are known as one of the best low growing ground coverings and can basically take care of themselves with little care from you.

Creeping Thyme are an extremely versatile plant that can be used in so many different ways and requires very little to no maintenance – a Gardner’s dream 🙂

And they are Used for..

Ground Cover

Can you imagine being able to walk on your plants and watch them bounce back up. Well this is what your creeping thyme can do. Kind of reminds me of the old Timex commercial “Takes a licking and keeps on Ticking” 🙂

Because of this ruggedness, these plants are perfect to grow in the area between patios and walkways, or between stepping stones. Also, because of their low growth ability, they are perfect to plant as a fore plant in your garden. Adds color and will allow the showing off of your large plants behind. They are also great for weed control.

People have been known to replace their grass with thyme, but if you decide to do this be careful of the variety of thyme you choose. Your best choice may be the “Woolly Thyme”, opposed to choosing the Caraway thyme, which is a lot faster grower and may engulf your stone work.

Medicinal Use

Creeping Thyme have been known to be used for medicinal purposes as well. Does anyone here reading this use Listerine mouth wash? Well Listerine contains an ingredient called “Thymol,” which is derived from thyme! – How cool is that!!

In the Kitchen

Let’s not forget the use of creeping thyme in the kitchen. You can use it to boost the flavor of many dishes, including soups, meats, and stews and so on.

First, wait until the flowers have bloomed and then once the dew has dissipated in the early morning, pick your plants and hang them in a dark dry place for a few days or until completely dried out. Find yourself some sealable containers and store your fresh thyme.

They Look Like ..

As mentioned above the creeping thyme will grow no more than 6” in height but will spread out up to 2 feet in width.

There are many different varieties of creeping thyme that come in a multiple of colors. You may find their foliage in shades of light to dark green, to a greyish color of the “Woolly” thyme.

The leaves, that are very small in size, can be seen in many different colors such as white, lavender, or red. The plants grow leaves like there is no tomorrow usually covering up anything below them.

Let’s Start Planting

OK, so we are ready to plant; first step is to prepare the soil. You will need to mix your planting soil with a good mixture of organic humus. Make sure you mix the soil to around a foot deep.

You may also want to consider adding compost, some peat moss and even some processed manure. The additives should be around half of your potting mix.

If you have decided to plant from seed, they can be planted anytime during the growing season. For us here in the north that would be between May and August.

If you decide to buy the plants from a garden center or nursery and you want  transplant your thyme, try not to do so in the fall if the weather has started to change. Any kind of frost can cause damage to the roots and possibly kill your plants. If there is a need to transplant, do so in the spring long after the frost is a threat.

When it comes time to fertilize your normal liquid plant food or even fish fertilizer will do the trick. Early spring or late summer would be your best time to fertilize.

Types of Thyme

If you are curious about thyme here is a list of some of the different varieties. Just so you know, there are over 100 different varieties to choose from. We will not be listing them all here 🙂

Fast growing ground cover that has a fragrance

Lemon Thyme

Lemon Thyme
Lemon Thyme

Grows like a weed and smells and tastes like lemon. Can be used in any recipe that calls for lemon.

Spicy Orange Thyme

Spicy Orange Thyme
Spicy Orange Thyme

Great as a plant along a walkway. Has a hint of allspice and oranges and is great with fish, chicken or even tea.

White Creeping Thyme

White Creeping Thyme
White Creeping Thyme

A hardy and durable thyme that is great for small areas in your garden or between stones.

Red Creeping Thyme

Red Creeping Thyme
Red Creeping Thyme

Great as a ground cover that blossoms into beautiful pink flowers.

Woolly Thyme

Woolly Thyme
Woolly Thyme

A very thick thyme that is great for ground cover. It has no fragrance is not good for culinary use.


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